The Driverless Commute: Groups ask NHTSA to pump brakes on GM AV petition; USPS goes driverless; the last-ten-feet problem; and Cruise can make left turns in San Fran better than you

1. Public comment season

Cruise vehicle

Groups representing property and life insurance providers, car dealers and consumer safety advocates were among those who lined up to oppose a petition by General Motors to deploy on public roads as many as 5,000 autonomous vehicles that lack conventional operational controls, such as a steering wheel.

  • GM first asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January 2018 for a special dispensation to skirt the Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standards, which explicitly require a steering wheel,  acceleration and braking pedals and the like.
  • If approved, the car giant said, it would deploy 2,500 zero-emission driverless cars each year for two years as part of a new on-demand ride-sharing initiative.
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The Driverless Commute: Senior Senate GOPer pledges to renew push for federal AV bill, again; is China going to leapfrog the US in the AV leaderboard?; and a RI cop pulled over an AV shuttle because it looked weird.

1. New hope for federal AV framework? Doubtful.

Senate Republicans will rev consideration of a long-stalled comprehensive federal framework for driverless cars, a top GOP lawmaker signaled Thursday.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation last year to authorize and regulate self-driving cars, but a parallel proposal in the upper chamber crashed into the ditch over Democratic objections relating to cybersecurity and safety thresholds. Because the last Congress adjourned without the Senate voting on the bill, both chambers must now start from scratch.

Senator Roger Wicker, who chairs the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a speech at the US Chamber of Commerce that he was hopeful that the wrinkles from last session could be ironed out.

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The Driverless Commute: If AVs take more risks now in early-phase deployment, will they be safer in the long-term?; big electrification news on both coasts; an electrified future for LA while Trump is open to spending on EV charging networks.

1. Humans can’t stop rear-ending slow-moving autonomous vehicles. But who’s to blame: the human, whose behavior mirrors norms if not law, or the paralyzed robot?

Car collision

When autonomous vehicles have been involved in collisions, four years of data teach us that it’s almost always been the fault of a human driver. At least, that’s the black-and-white view generally held by law enforcement.

But autonomous vehicles are so strictly engineered to obey the rules of the road and to avoid statistically dangerous maneuvers that it begs the question whether this overly cautious approach to driving is inviting more chaos within the exiting mobility framework.

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The Driverless Commute: A light pollution solution in AVs; Tesla-taxis; and Waymo’s app is up for download

1. Seeing in the dark

Nighttime skyline

A new paper published this month in the journal of Science and Engineering Ethics posits that autonomous vehicles could help break the industrialized world’s addiction to artificial nighttime light.

  • Light pollution from cars, street and parking lot lamps all wreak havoc on our natural world. Seduced by the other-worldly glow of towers and lamps, insects are lured to their doom, baby turtles are beached and birds crash and clatter.
  • Street and parking lot light represent some 90 percent of all outdoor illumination from the industrialized world.
  • 1.6 percent of all energy consumed globally is poured into streetlights while headlights consume roughly 3 percent of vehicular fuel.
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The Driverless Commute in Compliance Review: The prospect of the commercialization of Level-3 autonomous driving in China

1. Baidu joins hands with GAC, formally launching the high-precision map and self-localization mass production project

On April 11, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (“GAC”) and Baidu, the Autonomous Driving Technology Day of 2019 — “Intelligent Driving along the Way,” was successfully concluded in Guangzhou. At the event, Baidu and GAC held the launching ceremony of the high-precision map and self-localization mass production project, while announcing that the two sides have cooperated in putting up the Level-3 autonomous driving vehicle model of GAC, which is expected to be “off to the market”(上市 in 2020. We look forward to the GAC vehicle model’s early realization of the leap from the scientific research results to the mass production.

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The Driverless Commute: Is 2019 a bear turn for AVs?; the fight over connected car communication divides car makers in Europe; cheaper, lighter LiDAR and machine-learning for lane-keeping.

1. A bear year

2018 was the year of the driverless car.

No, they didn’t become commercially available and they failed to traverse the realm of true autonomy, but they captured the public’s imagination and sometimes paranoia in a way unlike ever before. Finally, it wasn’t just artificial intelligence researchers talking about autonomous vehicles, but regular Joes drawn in equal parts fascination and fear to the subject.

But now the honeymoon is over.

After throwing money at startups like drunken sailors for years, the industry has signaled a coming retrenchment. Rather than more multi-billion dollar acquisitions, expect to hear about reoganizations and partnerships that would have been unthinkable only years earlier.

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The Driverless Commute in Compliance Review: Intelligent and digital infrastructures are scheduled to accompany automatic vehicles in China

Boao Forum for Asia (“BFA”) was held on March 26 to 29, 2019. Its sub-forum — 5G: The achiever of Internet of Things — talks about the 5G development.  The participants of this forum believed 5G development should be open, cooperative, globally unified and integrated with existing industrial facilities.

Miao Wei, the Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”), said at BFA that the MIIT and Ministry of Transport (“MOT”) had reached a consensus that the government would devote itself to promoting the research on vehicle networking, and speeding up the intelligent and digital revolution on the highways in China.

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